Away form could cost Town dear
UNLESS there is a dramatic transformation, Ipswich Town's woeful away record will rob them of the chance of promotion to the Premier League.Just as Town's home form has been nigh-on perfect, with 11 straight, goal-packed wins, so the displays away from home have all too often been lacklustre, hapless, and very, very disappointing.
UNLESS there is a dramatic transformation, Ipswich Town's woeful away record will rob them of the chance of promotion to the Premier League.
Just as Town's home form has been nigh-on perfect, with 11 straight, goal-packed wins, so the displays away from home have all too often been lacklustre, hapless, and very, very disappointing. And that's being kind.
Let's face the dreadful facts. The winless away run now stretches back 13 games.
This season, the Blues have managed to gather only four points in nine games on their travels. Only the bottom two in the Championship, Preston and Norwich, have worse away records.
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The contrast with the home form couldn't be more telling. Town have the best home record of any team in the Championship, and, throughout the land, only Manchester City can match their perfect record.
But away from home, the Blues are playing like relegation candidates. The last four away games have all been against strugglers: QPR, Norwich, Sheffield United, and Cardiff.
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Embarrassingly, those four matches have yielded just two points. All four teams have used Town's visit as an opportunity to kick-start their season.
The defeat at Ninian Park on Saturday, coming after the brilliant 6-0 demolition of Bristol City at Portman Road two weeks ago, was especially gut-wrenching. It was Cardiff's first win in seven games, for goodness' sake!
Town fans are struggling to understand how their team can be so good, so exciting, at home, and yet so awful on their travels. After all, in both cases it's by and large the same players trying to perform, home and away. Surely the unfamiliarity of some grounds, or the noise from the home fans, can't make such a defining difference?
Admittedly, Town are still riding quite high, in eighth place with a game in hand on most of their rivals.
But that's based on a 100 per cent home record and, frankly, Town are not going to win every game at Portman Road this season. It would be naïve to expect that to happen.
So, if the home form falters, and the away displays don't dramatically improve, the season will fall away.
Jim Magilton admits he's struggling to explain the vast gulf between home displays and away performances. Jim has done a terrific job since being installed into the hot seat 18 months ago.
But this represents a real challenge for him. Thanks to the millions of potential new owner Marcus Evans, he will have cash to splash in the January transfer window.
That's an exciting prospect. But, with the greatest of respect, a dramatic improvement in Town's away form simply cannot wait until the New Year. It needs to happen immediately. If it doesn't, all the brilliant home displays will be wasted.